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If you use ad blockers and follow certain people on Instagram or YouTube, then you could become a potential target for influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is all about building connections with people and presenting your product in an honest and transparent way. For eCommerce, this is especially important. With tight competition and declining impact of paid ads, the industry has to come up with a brand-new marketing strategy that is persuasive for shoppers. Influencer marketing seems to be the perfect fit.

Influencer marketing 101

Influencers differ from celebrities in the following way:

  • Smaller audience
  • More authenticity
  • Better engagement

The main point about influencers is that they share the same values and interests as their audience and therefore are perceived as honest and reliable.

Image Source: Instagram

Today social media platforms contribute to revenue generation and audience reach significantly. 30% of online shoppers are willing to buy from a social media platform and 23% of the shoppers say they are influenced by recommendations from social media.

Social media is the natural habitat of influencers so it’s a great opportunity for a brand to reach the correct audience in a natural and non-obtrusive manner. Don’t forget the fact that more and more people are getting annoyed with sponsored ads and actively use ad-blocking technology to avoid seeing an unwanted advertisement.

Summing up, influencer marketing is:

  • Native.
  • Not annoying.
  • Corresponding with an audience’s values.

For eCommerce specifically, social media is a new marketplace with vast opportunities for growth and promotion. Considering the level of customization of certain eCommerce platforms (Magento, mostly), the incorporation of social media in a store is a piece of cake. So once you have everything ready, you can go ahead and outline your influencer marketing strategy.

Before you start planning how to reach influencers and what kind of campaign to launch, there are some steps to take.

Groundwork: prepare for big deeds

Ok, so you want to collaborate with influencers in order to reach your audience and sell your product to them. From there comes a question: do you have a clear portrait of your target audience?

The first thing to do when approaching influencer marketing is to identify your target audience because it will dictate the choice of social media platform. If you have multiple target audiences, choose in accordance with the campaign goals.

Once you have a clear and defined portrait of your audience, you can:

  • Send surveys to learn about their preferences.
  • Do research about the social media behavior of your shoppers.
  • Have a closer look at the competition and its strong and weak points.

It is important to know exactly what people like and need because you are launching a marketing campaign for them. And if you miss the target, you may not only lose money but hurt your reputation too.

Alongside the audience research, set your goals. Influencer marketing can serve one of the following:

  • Drive customer acquisition
  • Build awareness
  • Both!

Every goal requires a different social media platform for better results. So we are gliding towards the next step in your influencer marketing campaign, which is the platform choice.

Choosing the best social media platform

Below you will find an overview of the most popular social media platforms used by eCommerce businesses. Each of them helps achieve different objectives and serves a different audience so choose what will be the best for your business.

Instagram

Last year, Instagram claimed to have approximately 1 billion active users and the number seems to grow in a steady manner. Here are the main takeaways on Instagram:

  • Audience: 35 years old and younger; the majority of the users are female.
  • Great for: growing awareness, expanding audience reach, communicating with your audience.
  • What’s awesome about it: Instagram Stories are gaining immense popularity and now offer an option to tag products so they are shoppable on the platform.
YouTube

YouTube is a powerful social media platform with about 2 billion monthly active users.

  • Audience: millennials and boomers between 25-44 years old; the majority of the users are male.
  • Great for: both branding and traffic acquisition.
  • What’s awesome about it: it works efficiently at every part of the marketing funnel, offers engaging visual content and, at the same time, drives traffic to your site.
Snapchat

This platform caters for the youngest audience among them all but is a force to be reckoned with.

  • Audience: between 18-24 years old; the majority of the users are female.
  • Great for: creating a buzz in real time.
  • What’s awesome about it: the spontaneous nature of posting on Snapchat can help your brand gain incredible audience reach, if the post is crafted well.

Since you want people to learn about your products and buy them, these platforms are the best for posting reviews and holding competitions or giveaways.

Fantastic influencers and where to find them

Finding the right influencer for your brand may seem challenging but it’s actually easier than it sounds. There are a few ways to find the perfect match.

Existing followers

The most obvious place to look for an influencer is the list of your existing followers.

That’s right – sometimes, the most dedicated fans of your brand already share your products in their feeds. As Laura Lindsey (blogger and YouTuber) says, “It always amazes me when brands miss out on opportunities right under their noses. The people posting about you are loyal to your brand already. They’ve already established legitimacy in their follower’s eyes. Nurture those relationships, and your message will blossom!”

Google search

This is an easy one: just Google the top bloggers/YouTubers that share the same lifestyle as you promote.

Specify the field of interest and look for the lists like “Top-10 beauty bloggers on YouTube” or “Top-20 best reviews of product X”. By making your search narrow-focused, you will not only see huge influencers (like PewDiePie, for example) but local or smaller influencers that may be easier to reach.

Image Source: Google

Influencer marketing tools

There are a number of available tools that help you search for influencers, compare them and manage your campaigns. Since the majority of these tools share similar functionality, you can test them and see what will work the best for you.

  • Buzzsumo – Offers a search for influencers and an analysis of the content they share. You also have the option to follow your chosen influencers and contact them.
  • Peg – This platform is designed specifically to power influencer marketing and has an array of corresponding features. Peg helps you find the perfect influencer for your brand with the help of advanced filtering and provides deep insights into a campaign’s performance.
  • Reachbird – This is very similar to Peg and offers great insights, an option for content planning and a powerful keyword-based search engine.
  • Deep Social – This platform is powered by AI and offers advanced search of influencers and the insights about their audience and content.
Choosing the perfect influencer for your brand

Once you have a list of influencers (up to 100 potential candidates), pitch them and ask more about their values, what they think about their audience and whether they are interested in a collaboration. After that, you will normally end up with a few people who fit perfectly within your strategy and brand and are ready to collaborate with you.

However, there are some red flags to know before pitching influencers.

Amount of sponsored content

Followers love authenticity and personal opinions and views of their favorite influencer. Thus, if an influencer has almost all of their content as sponsored, this might be a warning sign that this person works for brands only.

Engagement vs. followers

What you need from a collaboration with an influencer is a response from their audience. So when choosing an influencer, look at the engagement from their followers but not at their number.

You might have come across Instagram profiles with +100K followers that only have 10-20 likes on their posts. That means the majority of the followers are fake. If that’s the case with the influencer, that means the audience will engage with neither an influencer nor your brand.

There are a few important things to keep in mind when communicating with an influencer:

  • Be genuine and honest.
  • Make sure to provide enough information about your brand.
  • Build a relationship and establish trust.

An excellent example of a terrible relationship with an influencer is the infamous promotion of Bootea by Scott Disick. Though Scott deleted the photo almost immediately after posting, some people managed to take screenshots. What happens in the photo is the worst nightmare of any marketer: the influencer simply copy and pasted the caption that the brand sent him, without adjusting it all.

This displays perfectly why you have to make 100% sure the influencer is on the same page as you and is willing to display your brand in a positive and engaging manner.

Working with an influencer: do’s and don’ts

The practices below will help you organize the working process with your influencer that will result in a mutual win-win.

The Do’s

The influencer already has their loyal audience and that’s the primary reason you approached them. Here is what you can do to make your relationship blossom:

  • Compensate financially: the influencer has to be paid for their work so respect that. Free samples are nice but don’t forget about the payment.
  • Let them be creative: don’t set strict guidelines on content creation.
  • Outline the main points that you’d like them to mention: an announcement of a sale, discount, or a new product line.

Important: make sure the post will be labeled as sponsored or will have this caption. Transparency is vital and sponsored posts that don’t have a corresponding caption may be banned or will bring negative results.

Image Source: Instagram

The Don’ts

The most common pitfalls of marketers who work with influencers are:

  • Providing strict guidelines on what to say and how to act.
  • Asking to talk too much about the product and its unique selling proposition.
  • Limiting the time for the video/amount of photos.
  • Focusing on the product’s features instead of its value.
Campaign types and efficiency tracking

There are a few campaign types depending on your goals and the product.

Product reviews

One of the most common and efficient influencer marketing campaigns is a product review. In fact, 64% of shoppers purchased a product after watching a sponsored video.

Product reviews work so well because they are similar to reviews from family and peers. Since shoppers rely on reviews heavily and make their purchase decisions based on feedback from other shoppers, a review from an influencer can boost your sales immensely.

Image Source: Instagram

Giveaways/Contests

Another great way to promote your product is to host a giveaway or a contest, announced on the influencer’s page.

Such contests often ask participants to like, comment, or follow the brand and the influencer and actively engage with posts. In this manner, a brand can drive a great number of new followers and expand its audience significantly.

Entertaining content

One more campaign is simply featuring the product in content. This may be an entertaining video or a shoutout post.

Content like this does not describe the product in detail but mentions it, with a link attached.

Metrics to measure

These are the metrics that help measure the success of your campaign:

  • Click-Through-Rate
  • Increased organic search traffic
  • Engagement (likes, shares, comments)
  • Cost-Per-Visitor
  • Number of sales
  • Conversions from users.
Summing up

Influencer marketing can boost your brand recognition and sales greatly if done right. Considering the popularity of social media and its ability to drive conversions, it is a perfect marketplace for tech-savvy brands that recognize the importance of genuine feedback from the audience and are ready to establish a relationship with it.

Guest author: Irina Linnik is a copywriter for Onliab, a Magento development agency.

The post How to Use Influencer Marketing to Maximize eCommerce Sales in 2019 appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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A common struggle for SEO experts is keeping up with Google’s ever-changing search algorithms. Every year, there is a slew of updates that force organizations across industries to ditch their playbooks and return to the drawing board. Some of these changes are seen coming from a mile away, while others seemingly emerge out of nowhere and send SEO experts into a panic.

2018 was no exception to the continuous refinement of Google’s ranking algorithm. In fact, Google’s Dan Sullivan claimed “We do some type of focused update nearly daily.”

The rest of this post will discuss eight of the highlights of Google’s algorithm updates throughout 2018.

Let’s discuss.

1. Confirmed Image Search Update (February 15th)

The Image Search Update was one that certainly raised some eyebrows, both on the business side and the user side. This change did away with the longstanding “Search by Image” and “View Image” buttons on Google searches. Post-February 15th, 2018, users cannot view images without navigating to the website they live on. According to Google SearchLiaison, the intention is so “users can see images in the context of the webpages they are on.”

Image Source

Generally speaking, this update was met with applause from webmasters, as they would see an increase in web traffic from image searches. On the user side, many saw this change as a petty roadblock to viewing images.

The reasoning behind this Google update is not clear. Some think it has to do with a legal spat with Getty Images

2. “Brackets” Core Update (March 8th)

Google updates sometimes happen in waves – or the effects are felt in waves. The “Brackets” Core Update was a perfect example of this. Some organizations saw changes in their search rankings as early as March 4th, while most felt the effects on March 8th and throughout the proceeding weeks. In the wake of a Core update, the first implication typically means that it’s time for an organization within a certain industry(s) to rethink their content strategy.

Image Source

The question revolves around the specifics of creating content to abide by Google’s new rules. Google’s John Mueller gave an explanation of this update and mentioned that the primary focus of this change was more about content relevance than strictly quality.

When creating content, organizations should focus on improving their E-A-T Score and ensure the links they build are in good context with their messaging.

3. Zero-Result SERP (March 14th)

The Zero-Result SERP update didn’t make gigantic waves across the web, nor did it send SEO specialists into a panic. The purpose of this update was simply to help searchers quickly answer black and white questions. “Black and white questions” refer to ones related to calculations, weather, time, etc.

Image Source

These answers are presented on Knowledge Cards in the “Zero” position above all the other search results.

4. Mobile-First Index Roll-Out (March 26th)

The web has been moving towards mobile for several years. In fact, being as how mobile searches have outnumbered desktop searches for nearly four years now, some considered the Mobile-First Index Roll-Out to be overdue.

The big change of this update is that mobile versions of websites will now be indexed first over desktop versions (as the name implies) by the Google bots. So, webmasters need to prioritize the functionality of their mobile sites and ensure they run seamlessly.

Now, a common misconception of this update is there will be big changes to how mobile content ranks. On the contrary, Google has gone on record stating that the changes focus on indexing, not ranking. Here is what they said on the Webmasters Blog:

“Mobile-first indexing is about how we gather content, not about how content is ranked. Content gathered by mobile-first indexing has no ranking advantage over mobile content that’s not yet gathered this way or desktop content. Moreover, if you only have desktop content, you will continue to be represented in our index.”

5. Snippet Length Drop (May 13th)

This was another one of Google’s eyebrow-raising updates of 2018. The thing that made the Snippet Length Drop update peculiar was the fact that Google increased the snippet length just five months prior.

Now, snippets on desktop searches are limited to roughly 160 characters (down from around 300). On mobile, the character limit is now in the ballpark of 130. The rationale behind this update is not entirely clear – like most Google updates. However, Google has advised webmasters not to panic about this change or focus too much of their energy on snippets, as they are selected for a number of reasons and not always taken from Meta descriptions.

6. Video Carousels (June 14th)

The addition of video carousels in Google searches is further evidence that the web is evolving to become more video-centric. This change means that searchers are now treated to a number of video results per their query – most of them being from YouTube, which Google has owned since 2006.

This update replaced video thumbnails with carousels under the first result in the search rankings. Not every single query is going to give you videos, however. These carousels are typically triggered by phrases like how to, top ____, best tips for ­­­­___.

Image Source

7. Mobile Speed Update (July 9th)

2018 was certainly a good year for mobile. The Mobile Speed Update of the summer placed a big emphasis on the loading times of mobile websites when determining rankings of mobile searches.

Being as how mobile is all the rage these days, many would assume that this update was the grim reaper for slow mobile sites across the world. Thankfully, this update seemed like more of a warning shot from Google, as the vast majority of impacted sites had the absolute slowest loading times based on a small handful of queries.

Regardless of the small effect, this update should light a fire under webmasters to be proactive and ensure their mobile versions aren’t bogged down with slow speed.

8. Medic Core Update (August 1st)

The Medic Core Update was a doozy. The ripple effect of this August 1st update sent SEO experts across the world into a mass scramble to pick up the pieces of shattered rankings. The most prominent takeaway from this algorithm change was that organizations in Your Money Your Life industries paid the biggest price.

Your Money Your Life (YMYL) organizations refer to those in health, finance, fitness, law, and so on. The purpose of this update was to ensure that searchers were paired with the most relevant and credible information as possible. After all, health advice from a non-reputable source can be potentially dangerous.

So, moving forward, these organizations need to focus their content game on improving E-A-T Score, backing claims with accredited research, making sure their content platform is safe for users, etc. To learn more about this update, E2M interviewed Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz in this podcast! Check it out to get some more answers!

Good luck!

There is no doubt that we will see our fair share of algorithm changes in the coming year. That being said, you should always keep the idea in the back of your mind that your rankings could take a hit at any moment. Now, in order to fight this paranoia, you need to have a strong strategy and protocol in place to quickly adapt to algorithm changes. Best of luck in 2019 and beyond!

Guest author: Jaykishan Panchal is the SEO and Content Manager at E2M Solutions a full-service digital agency.

The post 8 of the Biggest Google Algorithm Updates of 2018 appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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The impact of guest posting on businesses and the relevance of it in today’s world has been one that’s attracted much debate.

But it’s widely agreed upon that guest posting (if done “ethically”) still works.

Even though Matt Cutts has claimed that “guest posting is done”, he was only referring to the spammy practice of gaining quick and dirty links for your website.

In fact, he has openly agreed that guest posting has its fair share of benefits, stating that, “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there.”

And in all fairness, that’s very true. Guest posting can have some great benefits, like:

  1. Helping you earn backlinks to your website that help improve organic search rankings.
  2. Bringing in referral traffic to your website from other publications and blogs.
  3. Introducing you and/or your brand to a completely new audience.

However, guest blogging is hard work, and it’s definitely not something that you can do overnight. A guest blogging campaign requires you to plan ahead and needs regular, persistent effort.

If you’re wondering how you can launch and execute a successful guest blogging campaign, worry not. This blog post will help you streamline your process for your business’ guest blogging project.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to creating a scalable guest posting strategy. But before that, let’s talk about something important.

Step “0”: Planning

Like most projects, running a successful guest blogging campaign requires a clear plan with your goals and tasks laid out for you before you begin. Create a project plan document that contains these key pieces of information:

  1. Goals: Write down the goals you intend to achieve with the launch of this project. Are you looking to rank in the top spot for a few industry-related keywords that have a high search volume? Are you looking to get more referral traffic for your business from this campaign? Define your goals first so you can strategize and plan ahead accordingly. You do not want to find yourself in a position where you’ve worked for months to suddenly find out that your goals were ill-defined and the returns from the campaign weren’t great.
  2. Timeline: Know exactly when you want to launch and end your campaign before you set out to do it. You’re going to have to work on other projects and not having this defined before you start with your project might leave you putting things off for a “later” that will never come.
  3. Targets: Set monthly targets for the numbers of emails you’ll send out and the number of guest posts you’ll write during the course of this campaign. This will help you stay on track with your plan and achieve your goals in a more streamlined manner

Once you have all this defined, you’re good to go! Guest posting campaigns can be divided into 5 major parts:

  • Gathering prospects
  • Sourcing opportunities
  • Maintaining an editorial calendar
  • Getting the post published
  • Promoting your guest posts

Let’s take a closer look at these steps.

Step 1: Gathering prospects

When you’re thinking of doing things at scale, you’ll have to plan ahead and follow a process. The first step of your guest posting process should always be prospecting, since that’s where it all begins.

Think about it, you’ll most likely get a 7%-10% response rate on your emails (we’ll be looking at drafting great emails in just a bit), so make sure that you have a LOT of prospects lined up. And this is what I mean when I say “a LOT”:

Say, you’re planning to start ranking well for 5 big keywords on Google in a span of 8-10 months. This is what your project roadmap should look like:

  1. Build a list of 1000 marketers/blog-owners. Make sure you record their first name, company name, and email ID (you’ll see how this helps in just a bit). You can use a tool like Buzzstream to get the job done effectively.
  2. Put them into buckets/batches of 100 each. You can use tags on Buzzstream, or you can create segments/groups on your prospecting and email marketing software to achieve the same effect. (Note: Make sure you’re only gathering prospects that have a DA (Domain Authority) that is 40+, or at least higher than your website’s DA, since the quality of the host website and the backlink matters)
  3. Reach out to each batch of prospects at the beginning of the month. Out of your 100 emails, you’re likely going to get 7-12 responses. The response rate for cold emails can be as bad as 1.7% or as good as 29%, but from our experience, it’s usually between 7%-9% for outreach emails for guest post opportunities. You’re also going to get responses saying they’re not interested in collaborating with you, so keep that in mind. This leaves you with 6-9 qualified prospects per batch.

This means around 75 guest posts in 10 months for your team, and this should be just about enough to start ranking really well for 5 keywords/search terms that you’re targeting. This will also help your DA go up, which in turn will help your organic search rankings as well.

So, step 1, gather quality prospects for your outreach. Speaking of which:

Step 2: Sourcing opportunities

While different people do it differently, the most effective way to make sure that things are streamlined is to come up with a list of content topics that you want to write on your guest posts, before you do your outreach. That way, you know what you’re going to be writing about, and you can even add the content topics to your outreach email and ask them to pick one that they like the most.

Once you’re done with that, the easiest way to source guest post opportunities at scale is by outreach via email. You can create a template and use merge tags that will dynamically insert your prospects’ first name, company name, etc. into your emails when you send them out in bulk. (Note: The email marketing software that you’re using might have some other name for it – Autopilot, for instance, calls it a “personalization variable”, but it essentially serves the same purpose)

Here’s what a good email looks like (and remember, the open rate is all about the subject line):

An email like this one usually gets you around a 12% response rate, but feel free to change it up a bit to fit your campaign’s needs best. After you receive a response from your prospects, all that remains is penning your guest post down and sending it over for publishing.

An alternative to email outreach (if time is not a big concern for you and if you like to experiment) is using Twitter to get the job done. While it is extremely difficult to do this at scale, per se, Twitter allows you to get a much better response rate from your outreach.

Check out this personalized tweet that we sent to one prospect when we were running another outreach campaign.

While sending these tweets with personalized GIFs took us a lot more time, the response rate we got was a phenomenal 35%. This is always an option, but remember, it’s a little bit more effort.

Moving on!

Step 3: Maintaining an editorial calendar

Once you receive the responses giving you the green signal for getting started with your guest posts, you need to keep track of your progress with each blog/publication. That’s where an editorial calendar comes in. Here’s how we got 10 guest posts done in the month of July 2018.

Every task has a due date, and is split into smaller sub-tasks like in the image below:

We use Asana for maintaining our editorial calendar, but you can use any project management software of your choice to get the job done. Having a template set of sub-tasks helps streamline the process greatly.

Step 4: Getting the post published

Once you’re done writing the post, get someone from your team to edit it internally and send it over to the respective publication. More often than not, the publication will suggest edits that you’ll have to review. Another hiccup that you might face is a delay in responses from the respective website’s point-of-contact. Make sure that you follow up regularly until they put it up online.

Ensure that you always get a do-follow backlink for your target keywords, especially if your goal is to get backlinks through this campaign. The norm is to have at least one do-follow link from your guest posts.

Also, create a concise, cleverly written author bio that the website can use when they publish the blog post.

Only one last step remains after you get your guest post published!

Step 5: Promoting your guest posts

After your guest post goes live, promote your content on social media, and urge the host website to promote it on their social profiles as well. You can even ask them to plug your blog post into their blog newsletter to maximize reach.

Promoting your guest posts also shows people that you’re proactively working on writing about your industry and sharing your knowledge. Getting people to see this is a great first step in establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

Wrapping up

Before we conclude, let’s just take a quick look at common mistakes that people make while running a guest posting campaign at scale:

  1. Make sure that you have a focused backlink strategy. Don’t try getting backlinks for too many keywords from your guest posting campaign – you’ll spread yourself too thin if you do this (sidenote: been there, done that). Earning backlinks for the same few keyword phrases consistently will help you rank better for those focus keywords. For example, we are currently running a campaign for fetching backlinks from the anchor text “local SEO” to our website, Local SEO Checklist, and we’ve been noticing an improvement in the rankings for the website for that search term, since then. We weren’t consistently focusing on that particular search term before that, and as a result, we didn’t see positive results back then.
  2. Track your results. Make sure that you use a dedicated rank tracking software like Unamo or a tool like Synup that has a built-in search engine rank tracking feature.

That’s it! This should give you all that you need to create a scalable guest posting strategy for your business.

What do you think about this post? Let us know in the comments below.

Guest author: Harsha Annadurai works as an Inbound Marketer at Synup. His excessive love for music and football has led many to believe that he was a jukebox in a football stadium in his past life. You can follow him on Twitter @harshaannadurai.

The post How to Create a Scalable Guest Posting Strategy appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Google My Business (GMB) is the BEST local optimization resource on the internet. Google has invested a lot of time and effort to build this tool with love and care.

Are you a local business that wants more sales and leads? Forget other things and work on creating, optimizing, and promoting your GMB profile.

How important is GMB compared to Facebook Local?

Some people call Facebook Local a Yelp and Foursquare killer. While there is nothing wrong with the tool itself, Facebook Local is no match for Google’s My Business. The Facebook Local app is divided into three sections. The home offers quick searches for restaurants or bars, plus a list of events happening nearby that may interest you. You can also see the events that interest your friends. This is important for you to tag yourself in.

The second section is a map and a search engine. You can search for “Starbucks” or “Greek food,” sort by “open now,” a lot like Yelp. It is much weaker compared to Yelp. To Facebook’s credit, it lets you differentiate by letting you search “standup comedy” and “literature,” and sort by “late night,” to find something to do after dinner.

The third tab is your calendar, populated by Facebook events you’ve responded to but also including whatever calendars you want to give it access to.

Google My Business is a complete business solution. You can use Facebook Local to promote your events and specials. Google My Business lets you do all that and much more. Google My Business listings show up on regular Google searches through Google Places and Google Events search results.

Google often updates GMB. In 2018, Google added a lot of great features to GMB. Local businesses should know about these new features and use them. This will help your local business get a better position on local results. People in your city will see you as a responsive and internet savvy business that cares about technology. This can be a good point in your favor.

New Google My Business features
  • Google Posts
  • Appointment Bookings
  • Questions and Answers
  • Messaging
  • Business Descriptions

Let us check these out in detail so you can learn how to use them for your business:

Google Posts

This is your event blog right there.

What do we mean by an event blog? It means blogging for an event at your business.

See, if you’re running specials or if you are organizing events, this is the perfect place to write about them. Google Posts are removed 7 days after they publish on GMB. If you mention the date of your event, and the event is more than 7 days away, they will stay until the date of your event.

Use Google posts to create short blog posts linking to your events pages on your website. If you’re a store selling stuff locally or a roofer offering services, you can still use it. Service businesses such as HVAC repair companies or local roofing companies can run specials or charitable events and invite locals to be a part of the event.

Google My Business will help you show these on searches in your area. Use schema markup on your events page or Data Highlighter in search console to tell Google everything about your event or special.

Appointment Bookings

This feature is a gift for service businesses that offer appointment booking. So, if you’re a chiropractor, a healthcare provider, a salon, a local restaurant, or a law firm, this is a handy tool to get appointments.

The appointment bookings feature of GMB can be used to promote the Booking Calendar page of your website. Your customers will see a link that they can click to go to your Booking Calendar. If you do not have a website or a booking calendar on your website, don’t worry. Google offers a list of supported scheduling providers.

To choose a provider;

  • Open the Google My Business app and go to the Bookings tab. If you don’t see this tab, then bookings aren’t available for your business category or region.
  • Tap the menu on the top-right, then tap Choose a booking provider.
  • Sign up with the provider of your choice.

Within one week, your scheduling account is automatically linked to your Google My Business account. After linking, you can receive bookings through Google. Read this page for more details on local appointment bookings through Google.

Questions and Answers

Google offers you full control to answer users’ questions about your business, products, or services. If someone has already asked questions about your products, pricing or details, you can answer these questions from the and Answers section of your GMB account. You can also remove complaints and useless questions from your Q & A.

Messaging

This little-used feature is very helpful. This is like an online chat service where people can send you an SMS. You should download the Allo app to answer these questions.

Here is how you can download Allo on your phone:

  • Download Google Allo from the Android Play Store or iOS App Store.
  • Register Allo with the same number you used to sign up for messaging on Google My Business.
  • Messages will start to appear on Google Allo instead of SMS.

Please be aware that if you turn messaging on, your response times will be publicly available. This means that you should try to reply to users quickly to not appear slouchy.

Business Descriptions

Adding a business description to your GMB profile is essential. A well-written business description is a great way to promote your business. Show to the world (the local world) how you plan to make a change and why you do what you do.

This is the place (business description) where you differentiate your business from your competition.

Google My Business allows business descriptions to include up to 750 characters, which is around 250 words, so make the most of this opportunity. Treat your business description like a page on your site by providing users with helpful content and not just words that are there to fill up space.

Wrap

Use these five new features of Google My Business to promote your business. They will help you connect better with people in your area. Google My Business is more than just a citation service. It is more than a review aggregator.

Guest author: Bella Jones works for local Miami SEO company, Cibirix, who offer services in Charlotte, Raleigh, Dallas, Austin and almost all over the USA.

The post 5 New Google My Business Features For Better Exposure appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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If you’re serious about growing your Instagram following, you need to get the right Instagram tools to help you reach your goals.

Whether you’re looking for ways to expand your reach or track your progress, there is a tool out there that can help you.

It’s just a matter of finding which one will maximize your efforts.

To save you time, we’ve put together a list of the seven best Instagram tools to improve your Instagram presence in 2019.

1. Kicksta: Get Real Instagram Followers

It’s no secret that having more real followers on Instagram leads to higher engagement, website clicks, and sales for your business.

But growing a following on Instagram is harder and more time-consuming than ever.

Kicksta is an Instagram growth service that helps you attract your ideal audience and grow your following on autopilot.

Kicksta’s growth methods are simple and organic. Describe your ideal follower and Kicksta will find and engage with users who match your specification.

These interactions increase your brand awareness and organic growth without having to spend hours on Instagram yourself.

Here are two quotes from happy customers of Kicksta:

“Our Instagram growth and engagement has gone up by 20% and I also learned tips and tricks that have helped me manage my account better!”

  • Emma Wakely, Travel Blogger and Influencer, @wanderingsupertramps

“Instead of spending endless amounts of time liking photos to get growth for our clients, we can spend it creating compelling content and cultivating a community on the accounts we run. It saves us hours and hours a day,”

  • Alicia Civile, Co-founder of LACE Photo Media
2. Planoly: Schedule Your Instagram Posts

Speaking of wanting to save time and avoid losing yourself on Instagram for hours at a time, one of the most important Instagram tools to have is an Instagram scheduler.

Planoly, the first visual Instagram planner, gives you the ability to visually plan out your content, meaning you can post consistently and keep your grid looking beautiful. For many businesses, consistent Instagram posts mean consistent business.

Let Planoly handle the posting so you can focus on engagement and building your brand. Your scheduled posts will be automatically published to Instagram, saving you time and energy each day. As an official Instagram partner, Planoly ensure that your posts are published, so you never have to worry about missing a post. Created by a designer and an editor, Planoly has all of the features you need in an Instagram scheduler with nothing extra to get in your way.

Here is a quote from a happy Planoly customer:

“Planoly has genuinely saved my life. I’m the only person managing social. Without it I would not be able to be here right now – I’d still be at my desk!”

  • Madison Utendahl, @MUSEUMOFICECREAM
3. Iconosquare: Track Your Instagram Analytics

If you know what you’re looking for, analytics can provide you with so much useful information about your audience. Iconosquare provides actionable Instagram analytics and industry benchmarks that can easily make a difference in your strategy. They track metrics like engagement rate per post, impressions history, and follower evolution for your traditional posts.

If you’re looking for data on your Instagram stories, as well, Iconosquare offers that. You’ll gain insight on when to post your stories, what types of stories to include, reach, impressions and more. If that’s not enough for you, they’ll also generate insight on your profile activity and links, hashtag tracking, and competitor tracking. Iconosquare is a complete Instagram analytics solution.

A quote from an Iconosquare user:

“With Iconosquare, we’re able to easily track our performance in full detail. It’s become an essential tool for us to grow and engage with our audience.”

  • Diana Choi, Digital Marketing Executive, Hypebeast
4. Crello: Create Instagram Graphics

Instagram can be intimidating if graphic design isn’t necessarily your strong suit. Crello is one of the best Instagram tools for people who want beautiful visuals without investing a lot of time into creating them. Don’t worry about spending money hiring a designer or hours learning new software. Crello offers a wide variety of themes, formats, photos and illustrations that are sure to make your life easier and your Instagram beautiful.

Designing should be enjoyable, and Crello offers a straightforward solution for marketers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who wants to make beautiful designs. Choose from any of the beautiful, ready-to-go templates on Crello’s site, and you’ll be well on your way to high-quality, amazing designs. If you’re still stumped, Crello’s inspiration collection is full of post ideas for any holiday, topic, or message you can imagine.

Here’s what a Crello user had to say about this tool:

“In a #startup you may wear many different hats, this simplified graphic design tool can help via @davidrlroberts”

  • Radivision, @RadivisionTV
5. Lightroom: Edit Instagram Photos

Speaking of design for non-designers, Lightroom offers an easy way to edit your photos so they have a cohesive look. Whether you want to use the available presets or play around to create your own perfect edit, Lightroom will make your feed look consistent. Adobe’s intuitive interface means you won’t have to spend lots of time learning the software before you create images that look exactly how you want. Lightroom also uses Adobe’s cloud, which means you can access and edit your photos online whenever you want.

It can be frustrating if you can’t find that photo you know would be perfect for your next post. With Adobe’s Sensei technology, your photos will be auto-tagged with searchable keywords. Once you find your images and they are edited the way you like them, you have the option to post directly to social media through Lightroom. If you’re not looking to schedule these images for the future, this can be a great feature. Adobe Lightroom makes finding and editing your photos for Instagram a breeze.

“Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom remains the gold standard in pro photo workflow software. It’s a complete package, with top-notch organization tools, state-of-the-art adjustments, and all the output and printing options you’d want.”

  • Michael Muchmore, PC Magazine, @MikeMuch
6. HypeAuditor: Analyze Your Instagram Followers

Have you ever had a sneaking suspicion that some of your followers weren’t real? If you have over 1,000 followers, HypeAuditor will analyze your profile for your audience quality, demographics and engagement. They will make sure you only have real, quality Instagram followers who want to be there and engage with your content. As a content creator, it’s a great feeling when someone engages with your posts. HypeAuditor can help you make sure those are real engagements. This can help you zero in on your loyal audience and encourage them to engage with your posts.

On another note, if you’re looking to evaluate the authenticity of someone else’s Instagram account, HypeAuditor makes this as easy as entering their username. Brands want to work with influencers who have real followers, not purchased engagement. Running your username through HypeAuditor can help you understand if you need to make changes to your follower base or if you’re good to go.

“HypeAuditor works like magic. The accuracy and depth of information the tool provides is really great. I especially like how HypeAuditor puts numbers into context.”

  • Trajan Tosev, Social Media Expert, @trajan.tosev
7. Magisto: Edit Videos for Instagram

For fast, easy and effective video editing, Magisto is one of the best Instagram tools out there. With video marketing on the rise, it’s important to keep up with the industry. Magisto offers help to edit your videos using advanced AI technology, but they don’t stop there. If you want, Magisto will distribute your videos and then generate engagement analytics for the business videos you’ve created.

Almost 75% of traffic online is motivated by videos. If your brand hasn’t embraced video as a key part of your strategy, now is the time. With Magisto, video editing is as easy as uploading your videos and photos to their site and choosing an editing style and soundtrack from the provided options. Magisto’s technology will take over and generate a beautiful video for you to distribute however you’d like.

“We have always had fantastic results with video. It’s so critical to see and sense the stage presence of a band in promoting a concert, but video ad creative is hard to produce. Magisto makes it easy for us to jump-start our video marketing strategy and learn what works best.”

  • Andrew Herrick, Director of Sales and Marketing, Casino Ballroom
Wrapping up

Instagram can be a tricky platform to market your business, but with a great strategy and the right tools to help you get there, you will likely see excellent results.

Add these 7 Instagram tools into your game plan and you’ll not only see your Instagram followers grow, but you’ll save time doing it.

I hope this list has been helpful as you plan your strategy for the year.

The post The 7 Best Instagram Tools for Massive Instagram Growth in 2019 appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Over the past few years, Instagram has taken the world by storm. With over a billion users, Instagram trails only parent company Facebook in terms of traffic. While IG has long been a fan-favorite, the addition of a “Stories” feature is what put the platform on the fast track to worldwide ubiquity.

Stories began as a way for Instagram to emulate competitor Snapchat’s ephemeral nature; now, Stories alone boasts twice as many active users as Snapchat has in total. The combination of Instagram’s immense user base, its relationship with Facebook, and its ease of use catapulted Stories to social media stardom.

The incredible number of eyeballs on Stories means that brands and businesses that don’t utilize the format are missing out. Advertising on Instagram and Stories are on the rise, but businesses should also focus on creating eye-catching, engaging, and ultimately persuasive organic content as well, in order to appear naturally in users’ Stories feed.

The only issue with this plan is that a user may follow hundreds or thousands of other accounts. How can you rise above your competitors and consistently appear near the top of your followers’ Stories?

Here are some tips that will help your business rank higher on Instagram Stories:

1. Create high-quality content

There was a time when Instagram delivered photos and videos to your feed based on when users added them chronologically. A few years ago that changed, and now an algorithm that is reportedly based on engagement decides when and where posts appear to you.

When Stories debuted in August 2016, the algorithm was already in full effect. While that algorithm has been tweaked over time, its mission remains the same: Instagram wants users to spend as much time as possible on Instagram – viewing ads, engaging with brands – and so they will show users what they think those users want to see.

Therefore, if someone demonstrates a history of interacting with an account (liking their posts, commenting, direct messaging, and yes – watching their Stories) then Instagram will elevate their posts to the top of your feeds.

Of course, “making good content” is easier said than done. Some best practices for posting content that gets higher engagement include:

  • Create more likable photos by following a few ground rules: According to research by Curalate, images with a single dominant hue, images with blue as the main color, images with more background space (to give photos depth) and images with low saturation are all more likely to get likes – and thus to make an impact on Stories.
  • Engage with polls and quizzes: Everyone in digital marketing knows the power of the call-to-action. Stories make it easy to get people to click, with polls and question stickers that you can share the results of to drive even deeper engagement.
  • Go bold with your text: Make creative choices with the text that you overlay on photos and videos. Use easy-to-read fonts, different colors, and prominent messaging and copy to keep people clicking through.
  • Share user-generated content: Harness the power of your followers to share quality content that your business spent zero time making. Fellow users will be inspired to submit their own work, and check back often to see if they made the cut.

Via @LEGO: A combination of kaleidoscopic colors and question stickers creates a fun, informational Story post.

2. Lead with your best stuff

Whether you’re writing a blog post or posting to social media, hooking consumers instantly is the goal. Your introduction – or in this case, first post or two of your Story – should make it clear what you’ll be offering viewers. Don’t be coy, because all it takes is a swipe for people to move on from you entirely.

Whether you’re making a how-to video or tutorial, premiering special behind-the-scenes footage, or presenting followers with discounts and deals, take the time to make the introduction of your Story as strong as possible. Even if people move on before the Story finishes, nothing drives down your engagement like an immediate pass.

If you have a Business account on Instagram, you can view your Story “Insights” to see how people are engaging with your posts – including where you might be losing users over the course of a Story.

3. Use tried-and-true formats and formulas

The Stories’ format lends itself to certain kinds of storytelling that doesn’t work as well with regular Instagram posts, which are limited in scope. Take advantage of Stories with its sequential format and endless posting ability to create useful, educational, and less overtly polished (but more “authentic”) content, such as:

  • How-tos and tutorials: Does your business have a product that could use a walkthrough? Is finding your brick-and-mortar location from the subway something of an adventure? Use your Stories to create fun tutorials that provide value to your followers. Plus, you can also save them to your profile for repeat viewing, or for future followers to find as well.
  • Behind-the-scenes footage: Especially useful for B2B companies who want to show off their company culture, behind-the-scenes Stories of your office space, an event or conference your team is attending, your warehouse or factory, or any other work setting that can’t be captured in a single photo or video works great on Stories.
  • Deals and discounts: If followers realize that you’re posting exclusive offers on your products or services to your Stories, they’re going to check in far more often. Nothing motivates people like a good discount.

Via @britandco: Teach and inspire followers with tutorials that they didn’t know they needed.

Extra points if you link these photos and videos to even more in-depth content on your webpage for additional engagement. You’ll need at least 10,000 followers to gain the “Swipe Up” option that takes users to a different page, but you can also use the “Mention” sticker to reroute users to your bio, where your bio link is waiting to direct them to your off-channel content.

4. Try the occasional live stream

Instagram is pushing hard for users to watch more live video and long-form video thanks to the rollout of their IGTV feature, which offers TV episode-length videos. They also prominently feature live streams at the top of each Stories list as a way to alert users of ongoing streams.

Too much live streaming for a small business account can come across as spammy, but a well-timed use of the feature can both provide followers with fun insight into your office culture, a day in the life of an employee, or a fun event that you’re throwing at your brick-and-mortar location – as well as catapult your account to the top of your followers’ Stories feed.

5. Engage with other accounts

This is good practice for any social media account you operate: Remember, your activity is not a one-way street. Creating high-quality, timely, useful content is important, but so is engaging with other accounts on the platform.

Reply to comments left by followers, invite users to DM you customer service issues (and respond when they do), and comment on the posts or Stories of users who tag you or use your company tags. The point of your business accounts on social media is not to simply be another mouthpiece for the company, but a channel where followers and customers get to see the “real” you.

By engaging with other users, you break down the walls between customer and brand – plus, the more users interact with you, the more likely you’ll reach the top of their feeds.

6. Geotag and hashtag for extra exposure

Location geotags on Stories are a great way to gain local exposure, and to appear in the feeds of people who don’t follow you but are exploring that same spot. You can go broad with your geotags – tagging entire cities, such as New York – or go hyper-local by tagging your neighborhood. You might gain new followers who enjoy your contributions to the location’s social media footprint.

Hashtags work much the same way, though they’re most effective when you create your own specific hashtag that leads to a run of on-brand content. You’re less likely to get found in the sea of #fashion or #retail posts – but the occasional well-placed tag can catch fire on the Discovery feed as well.

Using both of these options on key posts is a great way to find new followers and boost your overall engagement.

Bonus: Try the hide/unhide hack

When all else fails, or when seeking an extra boost, you can always try hacking the system with the “hide/unhide” hack.

The Tab figured out this trick: Post a story, then “hide” it from the person you want to see your story. Quickly unhide it, and your story will reportedly jump to the top of their Stories queue.

If you’re looking to grab the attention of thousands of followers, this hack is time-consuming and may not pay off in the long run. But when you’re first starting out, it may provide the jumpstart you need. Just don’t forget to also follow the above tips, so your content becomes the driving force behind your engagement, not tricks.

Wrap

Ranking higher on users’ Instagram Stories is a great way to stay top-of-mind for your followers. You’re far more likely to generate leads and see repeat business if you’re there every time someone opens their app. As marketing tactics go, this concept can be highly effective – plus, it’ll probably be a lot more fun than you realize.

There’s a reason why Instagram has over a billion users: It’s because Instagram is a good experience. With good content that keeps people wanting more, you can help keep it that way.

Guest author: Eric Goldschein is a staff writer at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions. He covers entrepreneurship, small business trends, finance, and marketing.

The post 6 Ways to Rank Higher on The Instagram Stories Feed appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Over the past few years, Facebook have been steadily reducing organic reach. Which means businesses now reach far fewer people for free, when they post something on their Facebook Page.

Facebook’s reason for doing this is obvious. By reducing organic reach, they encourage businesses to advertise. This strategy has been very effective and there are reportedly now more than 6 million active Facebook advertisers.

However, organic reach has not disappeared completely. You can still consistently reach people on Facebook without having to pay, with a Facebook Group.

I’m not advocating that you spam lots of Facebook Groups with links to your website. That is a waste of time and quite frankly annoying. Instead, you should create your own Facebook Group.

By creating a Facebook Group and getting people within your target market to become members, you can market to those people on a regular basis without having to pay. And the big difference between a Facebook Group and a Facebook Page is that members of your Group will actually see your posts – which is a big deal!

So how do you convince people to join your Facebook Group? This article will show you exactly how to generate 1,000+ Facebook Group members quickly.

For the purposes of this article, I have focused on growing a Facebook Group as opposed to creating one. If you haven’t already created a Facebook Group, here’s Facebook’s support documentation on how to do that.

1. Link your Facebook Group to your Facebook Page

You can generate members by directly advertising your Facebook Group. But I have found that’s expensive and ineffective.

Instead, you should link your Facebook Page to your Group. Doing so is straightforward and you can click here for Facebook’s instructions.

2. Invite your Page Likes to join your Facebook Group

Once your Page and Group are linked, you can invite people that like your Page to join your Group:

If you’ve been active on Facebook for a while, it’s likely that you already have a number of Page likes.

Inviting those people to join your Group is very effective. I consistently see 50%+ of the people invited, accept the invitation to join.

It should be noted that Facebook won’t let you invite everyone at once. You have to invite each person manually and Facebook seems to limit you to around 50 invites per day. But if you have thousands of Page likes it won’t take very long to reach the 1,000-member mark in your Group.

However, not everyone reading this will have thousands of Facebook Page likes and some will have brand new Pages.

If that’s the case, you can advertise your Page to generate likes and then invite those people to join your Group. I have found this is much more effective than advertising your Group directly.

3. Create a Facebook Page likes campaign

Head into Facebook’s Ads Manager and click on the green Create button. That will bring up a window that looks like this:

Here you need to give your campaign a name and select the Page likes campaign objective as you can see above.

Selecting the right campaign objective when you create a Facebook ad campaign is very important as Facebook will optimize that campaign to meet your objective.

Then give your ad set and ad a name, and click Save to Draft at the bottom of the page.

4. Set your targeting criteria

Now it’s time to set your Facebook targeting for your new campaign. Navigate to the ad set level and scroll down to the Audience section:

When looking to generate new Page likes it’s very unlikely that you’re going to advertise to warm audiences. Therefore, you can ignore the Custom Audiences section.

Start by adding the Locations you would like to target. I would recommend making this as large as possible. But, bare in mind that it should be within your area of operation as a business.

After all, there is little point building a Facebook Group that is full of people that can’t become customers of yours.

Then set your Age and Gender parameters. Again, I would recommend leaving this as open as possible. Page like campaigns work best with large target audiences.

After that, you may want to add Detailed Targeting criteria. If you operate on a local basis, or your product/service has mass market appeal then I wouldn’t add anything here.

However, if your product/service is quite niche then you may want to add something that is closely related to your industry.

You can leave the other settings as default. All you need to do is set your budget and then move onto the ad.

5. Create your Facebook ad

Facebook ads that are designed to generate Page likes should be very straightforward.

You simply want to include an interesting image that is related to your industry. And include a bit of information about what your company does, and why people might want to like your Page.

Here’s an example of an ad I’ve used that has performed well:

The ad images in Page like campaigns are formatted differently to most ads as you can see above. Which means not all images will work.

The image above works well because it is interesting and colorful, which helps grab people’s attention. It also immediately lets people know what this ad is about.

Here I’ve used short and simple copy, and I’ve told people why they should like my Page. It’s very important that your copy focuses on why people should like your Page.

You may need to experiment with a few copy and ad variations to create an ad that can perform well and generate Page likes inexpensively.

6. Repeat step 2 regularly

As your Facebook ad campaign starts to generate Page likes, you obviously need to invite those people to join your Group.

The quicker you invite someone to join your Group after they have liked your Page, the more likely they are to accept the invitation.

I would recommend that you do this on a daily basis. It only takes a couple of minutes, but having hundreds or thousands of members in your Facebook Group can be well worth it.

Conclusion

Organic reach on Facebook has almost completely disappeared. One way that you can still reach people without having to pay for it, is with a Facebook Group.

Directly advertising a Facebook Group is expensive and ineffective. I’ve found that generating Page likes and then inviting those people to join your Group, is a more effective strategy.

There are 6 steps to this strategy:

  1. Link your Facebook Group to your Facebook Page
  2. Invite your Page Likes to join your Facebook Group
  3. Create a Facebook Page Likes campaign
  4. Set your targeting criteria
  5. Create your Facebook ad
  6. Repeat step 2 regularly

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and best of luck with it.

Guest author: Ben Heath is the CEO if Facebook advertising agency, Lead Guru. Alongside executing successful Facebook ad campaigns for clients, he produces high-quality content for business owners, marketers, and entrepreneurs.

The post How to Grow a Facebook Group From Zero to 1,000+ Members Fast appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

You’ve spent dozens of hours to bring people back to your website… just to see them go away. And never come back.

The number of comments, social shares and returning visitors? Embarrassing.

How many subscribers? Too little.

How about sales and fans? It’s just disappointing.

It feels like people don’t care about your message and the value you bring to them.

How is this even possible?

And more important…

Can you change all of that?

Maybe if people start seeing you as an authority, you can change that. If you become an authority, people will listen to you.

And with people listening to you… subscribers, sales and fans will be just a part of your daily routine.

So…

How do you become an authority?

Let me show you a few tricks…

1. Upload the right photos

I see too many website owners who underestimate the power of a picture. Someone said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

Just a single picture can have a huge impact on the way people perceive you.

The idea here is to use your pictures to boost your authority.

How?

You have many ways to do that…

The specifics depend on your niche, the pictures you have and the ones you can make.

Here’s an interesting example by Kulwant Nagi from Blogging Cage.

You can see him with Neil Patel in the picture… and if you’re interested in internet marketing, the chances are that you already know who Neil Patel is.

By showing a picture with a big authority in the field, Kulwant is basically communicating that he is an authority too.

But that is not the only way to harness the power of pictures. Here’s another example by Donna Moritz:

You can see that she is speaking in front of an audience. That is conveying authority.

If people gather to a place and pay to listen to you, it means you have something valuable to share.

Don’t limit yourself, you have so many options when it comes to using pictures to increase your authority:

  • Do you teach dance on your blog? Post a picture where you are at the center of the stage for an exhibition.
  • Are you a nutritionist? Upload a picture of you in a coat.
  • Are you a life coach? Show a glimpse of your cool lifestyle.
2. Write a case study

Case studies are very powerful: you basically show people that you know how to get results – either for yourself or for someone else.

And a person who can get results is considered an authority.

Now, there’s a good and wrong way to write a case study.

The wrong way is to have just a mass of text with no proof.

The right way is to insert visual proof of anything that you can think about.

For example, you can take a look at my blog post “1700% Traffic Increase with a Simple Digital Marketing Strategy“.

You’ll notice lots of screenshots. Not only did I insert screenshots that prove my results, but I also placed a ton of images to show the process that I am teaching: this shows that I really know the topic.

Other than showing your own results, you can write about your clients’ ones.

A perfect example comes from this LeadQuizzes’s case studies.

I love what they did there.

They created a page with all their case studies and made it super-prominent – it’s in the menu near their logo, you just can’t miss it.

3. Get some testimonials

Testimonials work perfectly but are hard to get…

… unless you use a simple Jedi trick.

If your website provides value to people, you’ll get an email from a person who wants to thank you –  at least once in a while.

That’s the perfect moment to collect your testimonial: just ask the person if you can show his/her message on your website. The chances are that he/she is going to say yes.

By the way, this works also if you get a tweet, a message on Facebook or a comment on Instagram.

Notice that you can do this even without clients. A reader who thanks you is good enough.

And let me tell you that this is also retroactive: as long as you don’t delete your emails or messages, you can still capture your screenshot.

Once you have your testimonials, use them wildly.

Do you know how many testimonials Ramit Sethi has on one of his sales pages?

25!

That’s a ton of testimonials.

Your home page, sidebar, about page, emails, and sales pages are all perfect places for your testimonials.

4. Get associated with other authorities

The human mind, unconsciously, judges a person based on who he or she surrounds himself/herself with.

So, if you have interactions with other experts in your field, you’ll be associated with them – thus people will perceive you as an authority too.

Now, hanging out with authorities in your niche may be quite hard…

… but you don’t need to!

You just have to show that you can interact with them.

The simplest way is to interview some authorities.

The interview route has been taken by some very famous bloggers. For example Pat Flynn.

Most of the time experts will say yes to an interview – it’s free publicity for them.

And it will take you just a few hours between contacting, recording and editing!

And if you are shy or don’t like to talk in front of a recorder, you can always make a written interview.

The result is the same though – people will associate you with the authority you interview.

Another chance is to publish a round-up post.

You’ll have to work harder, but you’ll be associated with more experts in one shot.

5. Show your certifications

There’s a strange phenomenon that I still can’t explain.

When people apply for a job, they craft a marvelous curriculum full of all kinds of certifications, accomplishments, titles, etc…

… but when they craft a website, they forget altogether about these!

It is not like a degree doesn’t count on the web.

You probably spent dozens/hundreds of hours to get a certification – of any kind. Use it!

Do you have a relevant degree?

Take a picture of it and slam it on your about page.

Are you a certified yoga teacher?

Don’t limit yourself to writing about it, show it!

Here’s an example by Lindsay Kirsch:

Even if you don’t know anything about DigitalMarketer, ActiveCampaign and Lean Six Sigma, you’ll have a better first impression of Lindsay thanks to these logos.

Certifications will simply increase your authority. The more you have, the better.

6. Share interesting stories

I am flabbergasted by the number of people who don’t leverage stories in their online business.

An interesting story is a very powerful tool to convey authority and bond with readers at the same time.

Stories are so effective, that I am using one in the first couple of emails of my autoresponder sequence.

Of course, not every story is good.

First things first: your story has to convey your expertise.

Then, it’s better to show some kind of transformation – so that readers can identify themselves with you.

And finally, be sure that everyone reads your story.

Once I believed that everyone would read my about page… so I put my story only there. Then I discovered that almost no one was reading it!

Now I take any chance to share my story – including my sales page:

One of the best decisions of my life!

It increased my sales by a lot.

7. Talk about a weakness

Everyone has weaknesses.

But few people talk about them.

Why?

It requires confidence to do it.

By sharing a weakness you have, you show confidence and you can bond with your readers.

Take for example this amazing post by Jon Morrow:

It’s one of his most popular blog posts – it counts 261 comments at the moment.

Nice!

So… can you talk about any weakness?

No, some of them are better than others.

First of all, you want to share a weakness that has been an obstacle in your field.  Among them, you want to pick a weakness that you have overcome.

In this way, you’ll show that you both are human and have experience in your field.

Think about it…

Let’s suppose that you want to lose weight. There are two personal trainers close to you: one has always been in great shape, the other was previously overweight and then lost a ton of fat.

Which one would you prefer hiring?

I’m pretty sure that the second one will resonate more with you and will seem more experienced than the first one.

Conclusion

Now it’s your time.

You can decide to be ignored or you can get to work and be the authority you want to be.

Imagine how it will feel when loads of people will come to you for your advice…

… how will it feel when you have lots of clients and raving fans?

Does it feel good?

Well, then it’s time to accomplish all of that.

Guest author: Andrew Morrison is a digital marketing strategist who helps bloggers, marketers, and entrepreneurs turn their websites into fine-tuned businesses. He has been an online business owner since 2011, but he didn’t get to work on a tropical beach yet because his girlfriend loves winter! Follow his blog for practical digital marketing tips.

The post 7 Ways to Instantly Increase Your Authority Online appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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At the beginning of the century, keyword research was quite a simple thing – webmasters could collect a wide range of all the words somehow connected with your content, and it would rank high. Search engines’ algorithms were mechanical and robotic, so, looking for the pages relevant to queries, they relied on the number of similar keywords.

Modern technologies of machine learning allow search engines to provide users with high-quality and relevant results based on their intent, not just on the words they use. That’s why building your SEO strategy around high-volume keywords doesn’t work anymore. Today there are loads of factors which matter for your website ranking and for traffic it drives. And user intent is one that matters significantly.

In this post, I’ll tell you what user intent is, and how it should affect your keyword research. Understanding it, you’ll develop your SEO and improve your content strategy.

Understanding user intent

Well, what actually is user intent?

It’s the reason why a person types his or her query into the search field. If I enter ‘how to fix a zipper’, Google will understand I need instruction, not a link to an online shop with garment accessories. That’s why to implement an intent-based SEO strategy, first of all, you should know what types of intent experts usually distinguish.

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Although search engine algorithms have improved significantly, sometimes it’s still challenging for search robots to understand what people mean when typing specific queries. If I enter ‘doctor’ into the search field, Google won’t be sure what I want to see, so it’ll provide the following results:

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You can see Google selected all the possible results people could expect conducting such a query. When users don’t denote their intent, the search engine will provide them with several types of search results.

Why intent-based SEO is important

Knowing what your potential customers want to find on your website is the key to success. You should identify who your target audience is if you want to drive conversion.

For instance, I run a travel blog and create a post called ‘Around the world in 80 days,’ which is the name of both a popular film and a book. Although the volume of this key phrase is pretty high, if I manage to rank for the query, the huge traffic driving to my website won’t bring me that many subscribers. Why? Because, in 99% of cases, their intent will be to watch the film or read the book.

Furthermore, not only organic SEO but also your PPC campaign can suffer from targeting the wrong intent. Do you remember PPC stands for ‘pay-per-click’? Not denoting clear intent can provide false expectations for users. If they click through your advertisements and then leave the page not seeing what they expected, you’ll spend loads of money in vain.

So, targeting the keywords which don’t fit your intent won’t improve your conversions and can even result in wasting money. That’s why conducting keyword research and creating content for your website, you should consider user intent.

User intent and keyword research

What does user-intent keyword research consist of?

Everyone who knows the basic SEO concepts will tell you about search volume, competitive analysis, and maybe even about the keyword difficulty level. But most of them will probably forget about such a crucial factor as user intent. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to select only intent-based keywords (and there’s no need).

I’ve circled out best practices which will help you target the right intent for your website.

LSI keywords

Google algorithms not only see target keywords, but they also consider the whole content of the page. And LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are those which will help you answer users’ queries and create useful content.

These words provide high relevancy and let search robots better understand the content, meaning and synonymic context of the search query. For instance, if your text contains such words as ‘engine,’ ‘tires,’ ‘install new filter,’ etc., search engines will determine that you write about auto repairing and your site may rank for a ‘auto repair’ search question.

What if your new post’s main keyword is ‘friends’? How does Google understand whether you write about people you’ve got the platonic relationship with or your article is about the popular TV series?

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In this case, search robots indexing your page and seeing the phrases ‘episodes,’ ‘Lisa Kudrow,’ ‘David Crane’ will understand that the topic is about the TV series. The words ‘friendship,’ ‘relationship,’ ‘faithful’ will denote that, perhaps, the post contains tips on how to be a good friend.

The easiest way to collect such words is by typing your keyword into the Google search field and looking at the search suggestions the search engine provides.

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You should also pay attention to the ‘searches related to’ feature. If you scroll down the page with search results, you’ll see additional suggestions of the phrases you can add to your LSI keywords list:

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Choose phrases consisting of more than two words. Selecting long-tail keywords is also useful if you want to hit the top as soon as possible. Although they may have low or mid-volume, these phrases usually drive higher conversions, as people using long phrases often know what they’re looking for.

Competitor analysis

If you’re not sure whether you can select intent-based keywords, look at the most successful market players in the niche. What keywords do they rank for? To find out the answer, the first thing you should do is to identify your closest rivals.

If you’re opening a hair salon, and you’re not sure who your main competitors are, you can simply enter ‘hair salon [your city]’ in the search field. The top results provide you with the most popular hair salons in your city.

Now it’s time to discover which keywords they use. Checking it with a random keyword tool won’t be that convenient as most of the phrases will probably contain a brand name. But if you go either with Serpstat or Ahrefs, you can conduct the side-by-side comparison of your site with two or more competitors at once. It allows you to exclude brand mentions from the keyword list. I decided to use Serpstat, and here’s what I’ve got:

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Mind your snippets

Add your intent-based keywords to the metadata displayed in your snippets. Use your LSI words not only in the body of your article but also implement them into your metadata texts. It’s essential to make your page intent clear in your snippet, as this brief extract affects your click-through-rate and rankings significantly.

Why is it that important? Yes, metadata isn’t actually a ranking factor. But the impression it provides can cause great or bad user experience. If I type ‘iPhone’ into a search engine and I am willing to buy a new one and not denoting my intent in the search query, Google will provide me with the results with both informational and transactional intent. In this case, the snippets with ‘buy’ keywords will be the signals for me that there are online shops where I can purchase what I want. If some shop doesn’t denote its intent in the metadata and provides only such data as phone characteristics, I’ll think there’s some review on iPhone features and won’t click through the link. In this case, even high ranking won’t drive significant traffic.

Target buying intent but don’t underestimate informational intent

Last but not least. The conclusion you could have walked away is probably that you should separate informational and transactional intent and never mix them. But it’s not that simple. Having an eCommerce website, you shouldn’t dwell on transactional intent alone.

Even though people looking for ‘how to’ queries obviously have informational intent, they may well become your customers. For example, most SEO companies not only promote their service but also run blogs where they answer to most typical SEO questions and give tips. So, if you search for ‘keyword research’ half (or even more) of the posts in the search results will be written by SEO companies which strive to increase brand credibility and gain new customers.

The best tactics for an eCommerce website is to provide both informational and transactional intent. Once a user finds out the necessary data on your site, his or her next step may be becoming your client.

Guest author: Inna Yatsyna is a Brand and Community Developing Specialist at Serpstat, an all-in-one SEO platform. She likes writing useful posts and helping people. Also, Inna is a passionate lover of traveling, reading, and especially dogs.

The post How User Intent Affects Your SEO Performance: Intent-Based Keyword Research appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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The relationship between business and technology is undergoing an undeniable transformation across the board.

While technology’s traditional role in business has been to optimize efficiency and streamline operations, new applications of technology have grown to now drive business innovation, creativity, and strategy.

In an age dominated by consumer satisfaction, implementing technology that can gauge common trends and behavior of its clients is now businesses’ most powerful tool to meet market demands.

To do this, there needs to be a company-wide buy-in, from the top down in order to facilitate an entire enterprises’ growth and pivot towards digital innovation.

Ironically, this business-altering technology is not just attainable through complex analytics software, but can actually be performed just as well by a human being. Behold, the power of the modern-day data analyst.

By executing a strategy based on consumer patterns instead of antiquated projections, businesses go directly to the source to enhance the customer experience in tandem with their own initiatives. This data can prove to be invaluable both in terms of customer acquisition and sustaining client satisfaction with services.

Furthermore, this approach naturally pushes businesses to meaningfully engage with their clients on the new level expected in the modern climate of the corporate world.

The inevitability of analytics-based business

This digital transition is gradual and unavoidable, but not without incident.

Apart from general and cultural pushback from long-standing businesses to adapt to data-driven technology, the most pressing issue facing digital transformation is the lack of adequate talent to implement this change.

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In fact, 65% of CIOs state that the technical skills shortage is directly impeding the current state and potential growth of modern businesses and needs to be prioritized.

Similarly, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco for 20 odd years, predicted that one-third of businesses today will not survive the next ten years because they will not keep pace digitally, cautioning, “Either we disrupt or we get disrupted.”

The main barrier to this progress is a matter of perspective: Instead of holding firm to traditional corporate values, business leaders need to establish new cultures advocating continuous learning and implementation of accessible technology.

Use Case: Target

The potential of modern analyst capabilities cannot be understated. Take for example Andrew Pole, the man who casually used analytics to predict if a given client shopping at Target was pregnant in 2010.

As part of an outreach campaign, Target planned to appeal to soon-to-be moms with great deals and offers for all their pregnancy and newborn needs. Pole found that expectant mothers were more likely to make specific purchases, like large purses, particular vitamins, and organic cosmetics.

He then devised an algorithm that compared purchase history to customer demographics to determine the probability that a female shopper was pregnant. If client patterns fell within the parameters, she would be given maternity related coupons.

His algorithm turned out to be so accurate that when a father angrily confronted a Target manager about why his young daughter was given these coupons by an employee, he returned several days later to apologize when his daughter finally confessed that she was pregnant.

While Pole’s use of big data for Brick and Mortar retail was neither the first nor last of its kind, it nonetheless set the stage for how custom built analytics can be instrumental in driving revenue in accordance with its consumer base.

Emerging Industry: Fitness Clubs

The fitness industry is a prime example of a brick and mortar enterprise with analytical potential that is currently underserved. Health and wellness as an enterprise has grown exponentially over the last decade.

Consider technological developments that have become common phone features: Applications can now easily track, monitor and log anything from distances to net calories to muscle gain.

Similarly, advancements in fitness-adjacent spheres like injury prevention/rehabilitation technology, optimized yet fashionable athletic clothes, and heart rate monitors have similarly contributed to the clout of the industry.

Following suit, fitness clubs are modernizing to provide the newest management software and most intelligent training equipment possible for their clients. Traditional spin classes have been transformed into virtual reality races, workout summaries can be integrated across various application platforms, and automated check-ins now allow customers to access their gyms at any time of day.

Why Fitness Clubs? Easy access to analytic information

The structure and facilitation of a fitness club make it an ideal candidate to utilize analytics to enhance its overall experience for its members. Gyms arguably store and accumulate more first party data than most traditional Brick and Mortar enterprises.

How?

Consider this:

Before starting a membership, clients are required to disclose extensive personal information in addition to any specific details requested by the gym. Every time a client visits the gym, this data is built upon by way of attendance, class sign ups, purchase history, etc., providing more than enough information for analysts to gauge client behavior.

Ironically, when clients consistently do not attend the gym, they still contribute even more valuable data to their customer profiles, as this can typically signify low satisfaction or potential to terminate their contract.

On a macro level, business intelligence can compare prior sales results to current sales stock and supplies to make educated revenue projections, which can then be used to plan business strategies to either maintain or boost income.

Analytics features will create a comprehensive breakdown of what specific services (memberships, Point of Sales purchases, additional class/training fees) are driving profit and proportionately how much profit each area is driving.

Accordingly, this information is equally viable in bringing to light what aspects of a fitness club(s) need improving. If managing multiple clubs, business intelligence can compare sales forecasts and correlating patterns to make proper adjustments to clubs that are generating less profit or attendance than others.

Analytics intelligence to structure a gym

Furthermore, analytics can play an integral role in organizing a fitness club’s schedule. More important than offering appealing classes, they need to be scheduled at the proper times in order to attain optimal attendance, participation, and ultimately client satisfaction.

Since peak hours at fitness clubs can drastically vary for different client demographics (older members tend to work out in the morning compared to younger members at night, etc), analytics can use prior class attendance records and reviews to predict the best classes and most popular instructors for the proper time of day.

Similarly, by tracking demographics during peak hours, classes can be organized around times where certain clients are more likely to attend. This strategy is doubly effective: More classes or training options will inevitably make those peak hours less congested in cardio or weight rooms.

Additionally, in the common event that a class needs to be substituted by another instructor or replaced with a different class altogether, data trends will propose comparable substitute options that will likely attract and please that particular crowd.

Analytics to predict and combat customer turnover

Above all other advantages of embracing digital technology applications for fitness clubs, this tool is unmatched in countering the most significant problem in the industry: churn.

Although there is not an exact metric to foresee the reasons that lead to client turnover, various factors can be considered to identify “at-risk” clients to churn.

As previously mentioned, fitness clubs naturally collect scores of customer data that can be readily applied to understanding the diversity and habitual behaviors of their client base.

Analytics can identify peak and valley hours, member attendance patterns, and active vs. inactive client profiles to first create a neutral background.

Then churn-risk assessment on both an individual and aggregate basis can be concluded based on commonly related factors like attendance consistency, retail purchases, fitness goal progress, online engagement, contract duration, class bookings vs attendance, and personal demographics.

When this data is categorized and compared to patterns exhibited by former clients who terminated their contracts, overall retention ratios can be predicted and individual at-risk clients can be easily identified.

Once identified, fitness club owners have the unique advantage to disrupt retention predictions by targeting at-risk members with customized marketing campaigns and offers to draw them back in.

These “smart offers” can serve dual purposes: Not only will your customer be incentivized to take advantage of this promotion, but he or she will also feel personally catered to. This simple yet sincere gesture can achieve volumes in terms of closing the gap between management and customers and establishing a positive rapport.

By utilizing the power of analytics, club managers can replace intuitive business decisions with fact-based predictions regarding customer satisfaction. Accordingly, initiatives targeting churn and overall client approval can not only mitigate churn, but also provide unprecedented insight on how to maximize profits from club services, products, classes, or even trainers.

Inverting this data can also give you the behaviors of your least likely to churn members, which can, in turn, be used in customer acquisition campaigns. You can identify the average demographics, classes attended, and source campaigns of your most active and profitable members and use that data in your message and audience building.

Conclusion

As the fitness industry as a whole has followed the widespread transition of prioritizing consumer experience above all else, fitness clubs need to adopt the same mentality towards their clients.

Although fitness clubs are only a small microcosm of the digital revolution, their example is relevant to businesses spanning all sizes and industries. The digital era is here and business leaders, including fitness club owners, need to adapt accordingly.

Or in much more enduring words: “Disrupt or be disrupted.”

Guest author: Laura is a Marketing Specialist for Perfect Gym Software. She is a native born Los Angeleno recently relocated to Warsaw, Poland who spends most of her time at the gym, on an airplane, or online shopping.

The post How Digital Marketing Can Transform Brick and Mortar Businesses (Case Study Included) appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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